Austerity Isn’t the Solution, Economic Growth Is

By Janis Bowdler, Director of Economic Policy, NCLR

It has been three weeks since Congress managed to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff by the narrowest of margins.  The deal brokered at the eleventh hour prevented burdensome tax hikes on working- and middle-class families and generated new revenue.  This is good news for Latino families.  However, like all compromises, the deal leaves something to be desired.  The fight to protect the interest of Hispanic workers, students, and households is not over.  On the contrary, now is a critical time for Latino leaders to tell elected officials that Latino voters are not solely paying attention to the issue of immigration.

After weeks of tough negotiations, the Senate and White House were able to agree on a tax-only solution, and the issue of deep automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, has been delayed another two months.  The upsides are clear—tax savings for most Americans while generating revenue from the top 1%—but the risks are just as stark.  First, Congress and the White House still have to grapple with the sequestration—the across-the-board automatic cuts to discretionary spending that are scheduled to take place on March 1, 2013, if they fail to act.

Another concern is permanence of the deal.  We all expect compromise to be part of getting a bill through Congress.  While it was not unexpected that the senior Democrats gave ground on their original demand for a 45% estate tax on inheritance over $3.2 million (final negotiation was 40% on estates over $5.2 million for an individual), it is a surprise that they made these rates permanent.  On the other hand, the expansions of the working family tax credits that keep many Latinos and other Americans out of poverty such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit were temporarily extended for five years.  The extension is an important victory for Hispanic families, but we must continue to press Congress to treat working families the same as the wealthy by making their tax relief permanent. Continue reading

The Immigration Reform Train Is Moving. Are You On Board?

Today the president unveiled his much-anticipated proposal for immigration reform.  It comes on the heels of a Senate blueprint outlined yesterday by a bipartisan group of eight senators.  In each, the principle of citizenship is at the core, a very encouraging development in this debate.

Together, both proposals also underscore the fact that 2013 is the year to get immigration reform passed.  The American people want a solution, and it behooves us to take advantage of the energy and leadership that has emerged since the November election.

“Immigration reform was central in the president’s conversations with the Latino community throughout his 2012 campaign, and it is certainly heartening to see him push firmly to fulfill that promise,” said our President and CEO, Janet Murguía, in a statement.  “His announcement today, coupled with yesterday’s Senate blueprint, has turned the corner on this issue, building momentum and motivating lawmakers to put politics aside and get this important work done.”

Let’s be clear, though:  this is just the first step.  The most critical time in our struggle is now upon us as both Congress and the White House begin hashing out actual legislation.  We’re committed to working with both branches on crafting a bill which has at its centerpiece a pathway to citizenship and is inclusive of all Americans, including our LGBT brothers and sisters.  To do this effectively, though, we’re going to need to your help. Continue reading

Unity: The Solution We Are Searching For

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

Marlene Sept. 7 Rally (3)

 “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”

Standing in front of hundreds of thousands of people, with millions more watching throughout the country and across the globe, President Obama once again reminded us that there will be no more stalling, that the time to pass comprehensive immigration reform is now. The journey so far has had its ups and downs. As a community, Latinos were unquestionably frustrated when the promise of immigration reform slipped through the president’s fingers in his first term. At the same time, Mr. Obama has proven himself an ally, fighting against anti-immigrant state laws and granting deferred action to thousands of hopeful dreamers.

But with a second term comes a renewed faith that we will see this through. In his inaugural address, it was no mistake that the president mentioned the word “together” not once, not twice, but seven times. If there has been one thing lacking in Washington over the past four years, it has been a willingness to work together—and both parties share in the blame. Continue reading

How I Came to Support Marriage…for Myself

By David Castillo, New Media Manager, NCLR

DC_2011Being at Creative Change this week put the issue of marriage equality at the forefront of my mind. Our partners at Familia es Familia hosted a session aimed at educating attendees on the Latino community’s attitudes and thoughts on LGBT issues. They’re positive attitudes, to be sure, but when you think about the top three reasons why Latinos support marriage equality and LGBT rights, they’re not so surprising. Respect, family, and opposition to discrimination are at the core of the Latino community’s values, so it makes sense that our community feels this way toward LGBT people. Like the rest of America, Hispanic views on the LGBT community have evolved toward greater and greater acceptance.

During the session, I started to reflect on the evolution of my own views, though it might not be the evolution you’d expect to hear from an out and proud gay man. Mine has been an evolution toward the acceptance of marriage as an institution I want to be a part of. Don’t get the wrong idea—I certainly recognize the marriage equality fight as one that we need to have. But the truth is that I haven’t always looked at marriage as something that suited me.

The reasons why I opposed marriage for myself are pretty juvenile when I think about them, but I can’t deny the fact that I held steadfast to them well into my twenties. They were mostly rooted in a fear of commitment, though I did my best to justify those views as anything but that. Continue reading

Fighting Hate through Humor: NCLR Affiliate Latin American Coalition

Bananas While the Latin America Coalition, an NCLR Affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina, is no stranger to threats and extreme xenophobic opposition, its response to a nativist Neo-Nazi/KKK rally creatively fought hate with humor.

Supporters of the Latin American Coalition and other pro-immigration organizations dressed as clowns, wore giant banana suits, and honked horns at the racist rally, easily outnumbering the KKK protesters by five to one.

Their message?  Racism is ridiculous.

For a little pick-me-up, check out this wonderful blog post by the Coalition’s Executive Director, Jess George, on how her organization deals with hate mail and the negativity they receive on a daily basis.  Sometimes you’ve just got to “Laugh to Keep from Crying.”

Laugh to Keep From Crying

By Jess George, Executive Director, Latin American Coalition (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Last Friday was an exciting day. We got two hate mail letters. Continue reading